Jill Stein, other third-party candidates, defend Russia TV debates
Organizers of third-party candidate debates in last year’s presidential election — which included the Green Party’s Jill Stein — are in the awkward position of having to explain why they broadcast their programs on foreign TV channels that are now targets of multiple investigations into Russian election meddling.
On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asked Ms. Stein to turn over documents related to her attendance at a 2015 Moscow gala honoring the state-funded Russian TV network RT, which Washington officials say serves as a mouthpiece for Kremlin propaganda.
Ms. Stein sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty this month to making false statements to FBI agents and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling.
In a tweet this week, Ms. Stein said she is cooperating and “sharing all communications relevant to the committee’s mission.”
Supported by the nonprofit election rights foundation Free and Equal, presidential debates among various third-party candidates in 2012 and 2016 were cited in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Jan. 6 declassified intelligence report.
That report concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
In addition to Ms. Stein, Free and Equal’s 2012 debates included Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, with Larry King as moderator, and were televised by RT, Al Jazeera English and C-SPAN.
On Wednesday, Zak Carter, who organized the 2012 debates but was not involved in 2016, told The Washington Times that Free and Equal reached out to RT, in addition to Al Jazeera, “so we could broadcast the third-party debates to as wide an audience as possible and allow journalists all over the globe to see that the United States had more parties than just the Republicans and Democrats.”
On Wednesday, leaders of the Green Party accused Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee of smearing Ms. Stein, who received about 1 percent of the vote in the election.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia, said Ms. Stein had said complimentary things about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who he said “clearly was being used by the Russians to take some of the hacked information and release into our political system.”
WikiLeaks released stolen emails from several Democratic officials during the campaign. Mr. Assange denies receiving the material from Russia.
In a statement Wednesday, Green Party Secretary Jody Grage said, “Allegations linking Dr. Stein with Russia are based solely on internet rumors magnified in the social media ‘echo chamber.’ Democrats are clearly motivated by revenge against Greens for having participated as an independent alternative party in the 2016 presidential race, instead of endorsing Hillary Clinton.”
The Green Party also accused Republicans of trying to shift the Russia focus away from President Trump, whose campaign is under investigation by Mr. Mueller.
“Democrats are using ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ as an excuse to eliminate election competition and silence genuine progressive voices and ideas. Republicans want to shift public suspicions regarding ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ away from Trump,” Ms. Grage said.
⦁ Sally Persons contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.
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